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  • Writer's picturePhil McDonald

A simple and effective way to improve your home recordings

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

When it comes to setting up a home recording space it's easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of gear that's available. It's easy to spend hours looking at websites, salivating over audio interfaces, preamps, plugins, and the like. Plus there are umpteen mics to look at depending on your budget. It's a bit of a minefield but surprisingly there's one thing that's affordable and necessary that gets overlooked. And that one very important thing is room treatment.


I should point out at this isn't the same thing as soundproofing. There's a common misconception that a studio has to be soundproof. Sure, if you're recording rock music with acoustic drums you might want to think about trying to reduce the noise from your studio for the sake of good relations with your neighbours. But if you're just producing your own music in the comfort of your home you don't need to worry about soundproofing but you do need to think about room treatment. What do I mean by this? Simply put, it's more than likely the space you're using to create your music isn't ideal and certainly wasn't designed with sound recording in mind. So without some room treatment, you're not going to be getting the best results. Why is this?


Sound waves bounce off hard and reflective surfaces so when you sing a note or strum a chord on your guitar, the sound emanating from the source will travel to the nearest solid surface and bounce back. It will then bounce off the next surface it encounters, albeit whilst weaking. However, this bouncing can cause all sorts of problems in the music production process. For starters it will sound odd, like a faint echo meaning if you're singing into a microphone, the mic will not only capture your voice but also the reflections from the room. When it comes to mixing, there won't be anything you can do about this. It's easy to add room ambiance via a plugin but you can't remove it if it's there at the source. You'll come across the same problem when mixing your project. What you hear from your monitors or speakers will sound odd as the sound bounces around the room, meaning you'll be trying to compensate and thus make wrong mixing decisions. The bottom line is it's time-consuming, frustrating and ultimately means you'll probably have to re-record. Not an ideal situation. So what can you do about this?


Yep, you've guessed it. Treat your room. This can be anything from pro acoustic panels that absorb sound, to DIY panels you can make yourself with some wooden frames and Rockwool. There are a load of videos on Youtube. Or you can use foam acoustic tiles. These are pretty cheap and can be stuck to bare surfaces to reduce the soundwaves and deaden the room. In an ideal world, you want to place your treatment behind your listening position so that sound from your monitors doesn't bounce back from the rear of your space. You'd also want to place panels/foam to the sides of your monitors to stop the sound from bouncing from the sides back toward you. In terms of recording, it's sensible to place some treatment around your performance space to reduce or stop signals bouncing around and hitting the mic again, creating that weird echo.


Sound treatment doesn't have to be permanent, if you share your recording space with other people panels can easily be moved and put away when you're not using them. It's good to experiment with placement, see what works for you in the space you have. And if your budget really is tight, you'd be amazed what some thick blankets hung up and some cushions placed about the place will achieve. Anything is better than trying to achieve a great recording in an untreated space. Your recordings will thank you for it






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